July 23, 2014

Nang Chong Stories : Kneeling and Kowtowing


My cousin Chok Ming (Tang) born in 1935 remembers my grandfather's special coffin - two ends sticking out, reaching the sky. It was such a horrifying sight to him, making him feel that death was a ghastly event.

 He was only 9 years old and his mother, my Aunt, held his hands very tightly. In those days, it was very "proper" for close relatives to pay their greatest respects by kneeling and kowtowing.


Aunt Hung Ing, brought her sons to pay their final respects to their youngest uncle, Moh Moh Chui Gah Gah (UNcle Moh Moh Chui), or Mui Gah (Last Uncle). Aunt Hung Ing in those days of Foochow Pioneering era was one of the educated girls. Her father, the headman of the Foochows ensured that all his daughters went to school alongside the boys. Her hand was also given to Mr. Tang Yew Tung, a Fujian born schoolar who taught for many years in the schools established by Rev Hoover.  Aunt Hung Ing brought up her children to value education and respect their elders. Three of her sons have been teachers (one, Cousin Chok Lik was a headmaster in Sri Aman until he retired) and the others are businessmen.

Cousin Chok Ming remembers to this day how he and his brothers had to kneel three times and kowtow 9 times. Kneel, kowtow three times, second round of kneel, kowtow three times, and third round of kneel, and kowtow three times. He also said that even though he was only 9 years old, having to kneel and kowtow in that way made him feel really good because my maternal grandfather left a very deep impression on him. He thought that my grandfather was a kind gentleman who had led an examplary life and had shown him the greatest of Chinese values.

According to him, when I met up with him recently, that was the last time he did it as a Foochow ritual of paying respect to an uncle during the funeral. He said that he never knelt and kowtow-ed again in his life. His mother did not ask him and his brothers to show that kind of respect to any one else. I really felt good that his late mother and he and his brothers regarded my grand father so highly.

This was because his mother truly loved his Youngest Uncle, the beloved youngest brother of her father, the Capitan, Lau Kah Tii. According to my mother, her father had loved all of them very very much.

My maternal grandfather was truly blessed because he was so well loved.

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